Alice Nunn

In an effort to save time and money, I've decided to outsource some of my work north of the border to Canada and steal a meme that my boy wigsf did the other day:
Five Things That Scared Me When I was a Child.
Now before we get going with the list -- there are two things I've got to put on the table first. Because regardless of how silly my childhood fears might seem, there are still a couple of ideas that still freak me out now that I really don't have a rational explanation for:

  1. Scenes in movies where rooms or boats or submarines fill up with water and people get trapped inside. -- I've written about this many times before, but this idea above anything else gives me the goddamn willies. Now for the record, I've never been on a submarine a day in my life, but the first time I saw this (while watching Gray Lady Down with my dad) it just spooked me to the bone.

    For a while I just wrote it off as one of those "too-realistic-for-it's-own-good" movie scenes that Hollywood puts out sometimes (don't even get me started on plane crash scenes, which I personally would like to call a moratorium on), but then I saw it again in The Abyss, and then in some James Bond movie, and then at the end of The Perfect Storm -- and each time I didn't get a second of sleep the following evening.

    I'm sure there's a psychological explanation for why this particular idea scares the bejeezus out of me (being trapped against inescapable forces perhaps), but that doesn't change the fact that I turn into a pile of goosebumps whenever something like that shows up in a movie.

  2. The Bug Dream -- I used to get these when I was a kid, but the truth of the matter is that they're a hell of a lot worse now.

    Essentially, the Bug Dream is this recurring sort of half-dream/half-night terror thing I get once in a while where I'm laying in the bed trying to fall asleep (or dreaming that I'm laying in the bed trying to fall asleep) and out of nowhere I suddenly get the absolutely vivid, completely tactile sensation that a fast-moving, spiky legged but still kind of wet-and-slimy-textured insect has not only somehow gotten into my bedroom, but is trapped under the covers and in an effort to find a way out has just brushed past my leg.
    And once the bug dream starts, it doesn't stop.
    Because unlike those crappy nightmares where your system wakes you up before things get too heavy for your subconscious to handle, the bug dream wakes me up because my mind has lost the line between fantasy and reality and is suddenly convinced that there actually is a bug somewhere in my room.

    So suddenly I'm turning lights on, pulling back blankets, looking under the mattress -- the whole nine yards. And I'm not freaked out by insects in general -- except when the fuckers sneak up on you. In other words, cockroaches aren't really scary per se -- but If I see a little black dot with legs dart across the kitchen floor at a zillion miles and hour and then somehow disappear into the baseboards, I'm gonna do that embarrassing double-take "Jesus god, what the hell was that!?" kind of move that makes even the manliest of men look like a bitch to anyone nearby.
I sometimes wonder if these fears are based in something I might have experienced when I was younger, but when I think back to the kind of things that scared me when I was little it's pretty hard to make a connection, because when you get right down to it -- I was scared of some pretty dumb shit when I was a kid.
Five Things That Scared Me When I was a Child.
  • Giant Bees in Sunhats -- I can't believe I remember this so vividly, because this had to be ages ago -- but when I was a really little kid my mom took me to the dentist's office, and while we were waiting to see the guy I made the mistake of trying to kill time by reading a Highlights magazine.

    Remember Highlights, the overtly-Christian kids magazine that looked great on the cover, but offered nothing whatsoever once you opened it up? -- Well this issue that featured some story about the relationship between farmers and bees which featured an illustration of a GIANT BUMBLEBEE WEARING A SUNHAT.

    This thing dwarfed the farmer, and was drawn as if he were hovering in place right in front of the guy. And this wasn't a cartoony cute bee with a smiley face, this was straight-up National Geographic shit, complete with stinger.
    I guess it was supposed to be helping the farmer -- but that's not what it looked like to me.
    See, my mother was one of those people that was like super-allergic to bee stings, like if she got one she could die -- so she was justifiably over-paranoid about them, a fear which she couldn't help but pass on to her kids, so I was already a little bee-phobic to start out with -- but I was also at that tender age where I believed everything I saw on TV or in books, so the concept of a house-sized variety of these things was more than my little brain wanted to think about -- especially when he showed up chasing my ass down in a nightmare a night or so later.

  • Jaws -- Now I know what you're thinking: "Dude, Jaws came out in like 1975 -- you were what, three years old at the time?" and you'd be right. 1975 (for those of you who weren't there) was a very different time in America. Nowadays, people bring kids to the theater with them when they watch horror films. Every time you see an R-Rated film these days, there's some asshole two seats down with a baby seat and a cell phone -- which wasn't really the case thirty years ago..
    Unless you went to a drive-in.
    Although the fad was mostly over by the time my family moved to Florida, there was this one theater back in Colorado my parents would frequently drive us to. Now the thing about drive-ins that people don't think about is that most babies can't do five minutes in a moving car without feeling a need to nap. So drive-in theaters used to be a great way to skip the babysitter because the baby usually fell asleep on the ride over, and as long as they weren't too young would stay asleep through the whole film. In that sense, going to the drive in was like watching a really big TV while your kid snoozed away in easy reach if anything went wrong.

    The trick worked pretty good for a while, but then as you got older things like car rides and movies became fascinating, so drive-in theaters started doing this trick where they'd show two movies at once. One in front of the car -- usually a family film or some harmless PG-rated comedy, and then the other movie that they'd broadcast behind the car, which was usually some R-Rated slasher flick, or even in some parts of the country -- porn.

    The idea was that the cars that faced one way could watch one movie, and the cars facing the opposite way could see another, but what it evolved into for a while was mom and dad watching one way while we looked the other.
    You can probably see where I'm going with this.
    So one day I'm watching my movie and laughing at some joke and wanted to tell my dad about it, so I turn around to tell him what's going on and HOLY SHIT THERE'S A GIANT SHARK EATING ROBERT SHAW!!!

    Jaws was also one of the first modern-era blockbusters, so once it hit TV they'd play it all the goddamn time, and even the edited versions of that film were scary as shit -- especially for a Colorado kid who at time had never seen the ocean. I swear to god I'd be swimming in a pool or something and some a-hole would yell shark, and everyone would get out of the water.

  • Flume Rides -- It's hard to even accurately describe how much of a pussy I was about amusement park thrill rides when I was a kid.

    I'm still not that much of a roller coaster guy, but I'll get on them if I have to. I don't love the idea, but I've done it enough years now that I can usually endure it as long as it's nothing too crazy.

    Lots of people don't like roller coasters --It's a rational, understandable fear. But what science can't explain is why the people who don't like roller coasters always end up in families of people who do.
    People like my little brother.
    Josh loves thrill rides. He'd ride coasters by himself when he was five without blinking an eye. I, on the other hand -- would go into full-on hysterics, and try to convince complete strangers that the people trying to drag me onto Space Mountain were evil, and that I needed to be rescued by the cops before they made me go on this ride with them.

    The worst time was when my mom convinced us all to get on some huge flume ride at Busch Gardens in Tampa. the whole family climbed into this little log-shaped thing and started climbing the track when suddenly it dawned upon me that I didn't want to go through with it and I started screaming my head off.

    Then when we got to the top of the ride there was a guy up there (some technician or something), who I began throwing every cuss word I could think of at as part of my pleas for rescue. So imagine you're Joe Busch Gardens worker at the top of the flume, when suddenly a family of four slides by you trying to act like they don't know the 10 year-old reaching out his hand towards you screaming "GET ME THE FUCK OFF THIS FUCKING RIDE NOOWWWW!!!"

  • Cotton Balls -- It's not that I was scared of cotton balls when I was a kid, but there was something about their texture that used to give me instant goosebumps.

    I still sorta don't like opening aspirin bottles, because there's just something about the way the cotton they use feels that I find disturbing.

    I have no idea where this came from, and I wish like hell it would go away -- but it's always been like that. If I pick up a cotton ball with my fingers I immediately want to drop it. It's embarrassing, because I don’t really have an explanation for it -- but at least I'm not as bad as this woman, who made the mistake of thinking Maury Povich could help her get past her fear.

  • This:
    I know it's supposed to be funny (I find it hilarious now) but the first time I watched this movie I honestly didn't see it coming and it totally scared me to death.
So, other than the fact that you've suddenly realized that you're friends with a guy who kinda freaks out whenever he sees a cotton ball --
What scares you?

[Listening to:  One Day as a Lion"Wild International" ]


JerseySjov said…
what scares me?
sharks, crickets, big spiders.
i haven't been in the ocean above my knees since i was a little kid, and ive been known to sleep on the couch if i see a spider in my room when i'm trying to go to bed.
sharks are just kind of scary in general, but i think im so terrified of crawlies bc of the one morning i woke up as a youngster with a pair of spiders crawling up towards my face.
Anonymous said…
Cottonballs, cottonballs? You're still afraid to use a Q-tip, aren'tcha?
Mel said…
YAY! Large Marge sent me!

I remember being freaked out by that scene at first too... but probably because my uncle would make us watch it in slo-mo.
Heff said…
Spiders. All fucking kinds.
Jaeme said…
When I was little my best friend's mom had only three fingers on one of her hands, some kind of birth defect that made her hand shriveled and flippery. I had nightmares about hands and fingers a lot during that time. Like we'd be over there for snack and she'd be trying to get me to eat a thumb.

Spiders too, but that one is so common it's pretty much a natural human instinct.

Oh yeah, and clowns too when I was young. My fears probably seem pretty lame and unoriginal to a person afraid of q-tips...
Monster said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monster said…
So the wife and kids are visiting Florida once while I'm back at home in Minnesota, and I get this call one night... for some reason, my boys are having a hard time going to bed... can they tell me goodnight have have me assure them everything is okay?

They were at the house of a close friend, my wife was there with them, it was pretty out-of-character. So after I do the "everything is going to be fine" bit, I get my wife back on the phone, and I'm all "what's the dealio?"

"I don't know," she says, "We've had a totally normal day, they got sleepy, I put a movie on for them, and now they're freaked out."

"What movie?" I ask, quite logically.

My wife laughs as if the notion that the film could have disturbed them is crazy... like they watched Bambi minus any scenes with hunters or something. "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," she says through the giggles.

"Uhm," I venture, "Have YOU ever seen it?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Put the boys to bed, then throw the film in and fast forward to the scene where Pee Wee hitch-hikes."

"Okaaaaay," she says, as if I'm still nuts.

Later, she called me... she was having trouble getting to sleep and wanted to hear that everything was alright.


Also, I have an irrational fear that people will judge me exclusively based on my typos. Thus the deleted and re-posted comment. I hope there are none in there that I didn't catch.
Hex said…
Jerseysjov -- the weird thing about my water filling up the boat fear is that I love the ocean.

But I feel your pain on the spiders -- I once fell asleep on the job doing an overnight shift at the radio station I used to work at, and when I woke up there was one sitting right on my shoulder that looked to be about 50 feet tall from where I was sitting.

WIGSF -- Q-Tips are unnatural devices. They're long handled and soft ended, but it clearly says on the box not to insert them into anything.

Make up your damn mind, Johnson and Johnson!

Mel -- I think there's something in the Uncle job description that requires scaring your nieces and nephews.

Heff -- You know what the worst part about spiders is? They play possum. You step on one, go to get a paper towel to pick them up with, and when you come back -- they're gone.

Not cool.

Jaeme -- I'm not afraid of q-tips. It's those cotton ball things that make my skin crawl. There's a difference.

Monster -- I miss the days when Tim Burton liked to scare people. There were some fantastic "jump in your seat" moments in Beetlejuice. He should go back to that.
Werdna said…
the snow queen from a Hans Christian Anderson illustrated book with phonograph ( ) can't find a picture of the book.
Snakes - I still don't like snakes

some where along the way I added structural heights.